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Open Thread: Game 31 - A's vs. Devil Rays

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Update [2006-5-7 15:45:1 by baseballgirl]: A's place Milton Bradley on the DL.

For today's intro, I'm going to poach from the famous Nico and include this priceless quote from yesterday's game thread because it sums everything up perfectly:

I think most of us would agree that the A's haven't had a stretch of playing great yet this season, but it's hard to say how good they are when Harden, Duke and/or Street, Loaiza, and Crosby and/or Bradley are injured.
We have some depth this year, but...Payton is not as good as Bradley, Saarloos is not as good as Harden, Halsey is not as good as (a healthy) Loaiza, and on and on. Depth will allow us to tread water (as we're doing) instead of drown (as we were doing a year ago this month), but it won't get us 95 wins.
And then there's the offense, which isn't that great even when everyone's healthy, because the middle infielders may have been overrated offensively, the first-baseman seems to have lost all of his bat speed overnight, the DH is hitting like a National League pitcher, and the catcher sucks.

Heh.

In other news, let's talk about the merry-go-round; otherwise known as the 'batting order'. I've heard the following arguments:

Argument #1 - There are only 2.5 players hitting right now.

True. According to MLB.com, Swisher and Chavez are responsible for 39 percent of the team's hits, 54 percent of the team's home runs and 41 percent of the total runs driven in. (The other .5 is the occasional hit by a non-Chavez/Swisher. Usually a single.) So, knowing this is true, why in the world would you ever bat one of your hottest hitters a) seventh b) behind Mr. Rarely-Hits-Won't-Walk and c) in front of Mr. GIDP? You've just reduced your chances of scoring, and lest we blame 20/20 hindsight, I'd like to point out that more than one person in the game thread scripted how Friday's game was going to go long before the first pitch was ever thrown.

Argument #2 - Batting lineups don't really matter.

True for the Yankees, who have Mr. I-can-hit-homers up after Mr. I-can-hit-doubles up after Mr. I-have-a-ridiculous-OBP. But when you have the A's lineup; let's face it, you have to be a bit more creative. I wrote on this over the summer, which is basically a commentary from Eric Walker's theory on batting, which I'm still forming an opinion on. But all I know is this: Crosby had more plate appearances than Swisher on Friday night. This rant was brought to you by the letter "U" for "Unacceptable".

Argument #3 - The players write the lineup.

Which players are those? Soccer players? Basketball players? Diego Chavez?

Ahem. Onto the game!

Ballsy Brad Halsey makes his second start filling in for The Broken One. Wait...that nickname could refer to just about anyone on the A's. Let's call him `Oblique'. Much better. <barf>. Halsey picked up the win in Anaheim on Tuesday, after being yanked after Vlad hit a ball that probably landed on Matterhorn Mountain at Disneyland.

Good news! The A's seem to really like scoring runs for the replacements (much to the chagrin of Blanton and Zito this week), so let's hope this trend continues. With key members of the bullpen 'day-to-day' (A's speak for 'mostly dead'), Halsey needs to make the most of his pitch count by throwing strikes early and often. The A's can thank Zito for 7 strong innings yesterday to help out with the Aflac-dependant `pen.

On a personal note, it warms my green and gold heart to see Zito and Chavez doing so well. With that being said, memo to the A's offense: This is not 2005. Don't make me come up there.

Starting Lineups
A's:
Kendall
Swisher
Kotsay
Chavez
Thomas
Crosby
Payton
Kielty
Scutaro

TB:
Lugo
Crawford
Gomes
Huff
Hall
Wigginton
Norton
Hollins
Gathright